New College of Florida trustees give President Richard Corcoran a $200,000 incentive bonus

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Richard Corcoran
New College President Richard Corcoran at Sarasota Tiger Bay Club // Chris Young, 3/8/24

By Ryan Dailey ©2024 The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — New College of Florida President Richard Corcoran will receive $200,000 in incentive pay after the school’s Board of Trustees on Thursday signed off on a performance evaluation and releasing the money.

Corcoran has led New College since February 2023, initially on an interim basis amid a leadership shakeup at the school that garnered national attention. Trustees named him president on a permanent basis in October.

Under a contract approved by the trustees and state university system officials last year, Corcoran is eligible to receive $200,000 a year in incentive pay “based on his achievement of the goals and objectives” laid out in the employment agreement. The money approved Thursday was the first time he will receive a $200,000 payment.

New College is by far the smallest school in the state university system and had 731 students during the fall 2023 semester. Corcoran, a former Republican House speaker and state education commissioner, became president after Gov. Ron DeSantis revamped the Board of Trustees with a slate of conservative appointees. The new members of the board helped oust former President Patricia Okker.

The objectives attached to Corcoran’s incentive pay were in eight categories: increasing fundraising for New College; increasing “campus life inclusive of improvements to student housing, food services, adding sports;” re-envisioning the campus master plan; increasing campus safety and security; “faculty additions with growth and excellence;” increasing enrollment to 1,200 by the end of the fifth year; enriching academic programs and offerings; and increasing second-year student retention to 85 percent within five years.

The document cited “major milestones/deliverables” that Corcoran has achieved. For example, under the category of increasing funding for New College, the document pointed to $50 million in appropriations for the school in the current state budget. The description billed it as “the largest annual infusion of financial resources in the school’s history and more than the college has obtained in total in the last 10 years.”

Under the category related to improvements to campus life, a description said Corcoran oversaw increased “student activities on campus, including upgrading facilities for (a) state-of-the-art pool, adding a new gym and upgrading current dorms.”

Corcoran’s incentive pay will come on top of his $699,000 annual base salary. It was approved with little discussion by the trustees. But Trustee Amy Reid, the panel’s lone faculty member and the only member who voted against releasing the money, raised concerns about the funds coming from the New College Foundation.

“Has anybody consulted with the foundation about whether or not they have sufficient funds to pay this? I am concerned about the depletion of foundation funds,” Reid said.

Reid also said that “a number of receipts that are submitted to the foundation are not paid in a prompt way” and questioned whether the $200,000 payout to Corcoran was a “viable” move.

Bill Galvano, the trustees’ general counsel and a Republican former state Senate president, said he had communicated with the foundation.

“That was an issue that had come up earlier,” Galvano said. “And so I confirmed that the foundation does have the funds and has set these funds aside.”

Trustee Matthew Spalding, who was among the DeSantis’ appointees, defended giving Corcoran the incentive pay, citing the $50 million in state money that the president brought in.

“My assumption is that previous presidents also received bonuses. This seems to be a bonus that was actually earned,” Spalding said.

Corcoran’s evaluation was performed by New College’s Presidential Evaluation Committee, made up of eight of the 13 members of the Board of Trustees. Serving on the committee were Chairwoman Debra Jenks, who also chairs the committee, and trustees Ryan Anderson, Ron Christaldi, Joe Jacquot, Lance Karp, Grace Keenan, Don Patterson and Christopher Rufo.

The committee recommended that Corcoran receive the full amount of incentive pay. Meanwhile, Corcoran in the future could receive more money beyond his base salary and the incentive pay.

The compensation package also included an “accrued retention payment” of $200,000 for the first three years that would be paid out in a lump sum of $600,000 in February 2026 if he remains on the job. Corcoran would earn $100,000 a year in such payments for the final two years of his five-year contract.

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